Verdict: Clinic must be liable for the jump of a dementia patient out of the window

OLG Hamm: Care obligations were violated
If a confused demented patient jumps out of a hospital window, the clinic is liable for any damage sustained. The Higher Regional Court (OLG) Hamm decided in a final judgment published on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 (Az .: 26 U 30/16), especially in the case of seriously dementia patients. It would have been possible and reasonable for the hospital to move the patient to a ground-floor hospital room or to prevent the window from being opened, according to the Hammer Richter decision of January 17, 2017.

The dementia woman, who died in March 2011 at the age of 81, was admitted to a hospital in Winterberg due to a fainting fit. On the day of admission, she was restless, aggressive, confused and disoriented. The nursing staff struggled to prevent them from running away. The nurses finally moved the outside of the room door with a hospital bed.

The 81-year-old climbed out of the room window unnoticed and fell five meters deep onto a canopy of the clinic. The patient suffered broken ribs as well as a lumbar vertebra, a thigh and a pelvic ring fracture. The injuries were treated surgically in another hospital. From there she came to a nursing home where she died a little later.

The woman's health insurance now claimed compensation from the hospital operator in the amount of around EUR 93,300 for the accident-related treatment and for the daily hospital allowance paid. The clinic has violated their traffic safety obligations.

The OLG was now right for health insurance. The clinic violated its contractual care obligations and its duty to provide traffic safety. She should have protected the patient from damage and danger.

According to the hospital's documentation, the 81-year-old was “unpredictable” and wanted to flee her room. The medical expert also confirmed that patients "want to do practically everything" with this clinical picture. The clinic should have considered a possible escape through the window. The nursing staff should therefore have prevented jumping out of the window or considering moving to another room, for example on the ground floor. This would have been possible and reasonable, according to the OLG. fle / mwo

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